I've seen four films in the SIFF line-up so far. One I've already indicated; the three others are Amer (Franco-Belge), Le père de mes enfants (Belgian) and, last night, Farsan, a delightful Swedish comedy. Farson would never make the Cannes line-up, simply because Cannes seems to have something against comedies. We went with a friend and the three of us laughed our heads off at all the delightful silliness. At the same time, Farsan has its genuinely touching moments. The guy who plays Aziz makes the film. He's a lovable but totally invasive parent who hasn't really moved on from his wife's death and who as a result is making things hard on his son and the son's wife. They are secretly adopting a child while she pretends to be pregnant. The film is in Swedish and was filmed in one of those lovely, sleepy towns that dot the Swedish landscape. Watching it, you long to move to Sweden and work in a bicycle repair shop for peanuts. Seeing Sweden as I remember it made the film special for me; my two movie companions had never been to Sweden and thoroughly enjoyed the movie anyway. One of them wanted to move there, right away.
Amer and Le père de mes enfants are more sober films. The French don't do Swedish comedies. They do comedies, but that's another matter. Both of these films are Belgian productions; both are in French. In the case of Amer, filmed in the south of France (near Eze, it looks like), the language is not that important because there is not much dialogue. The film is a hommage to the Italian giallo style of the 60s. I saw it with my friend D. Her first words when the lights went up were "that was the worst movie I have ever seen". I'm not so sure. There was something compelling about the way it was filmed. Three key moments in the life of one person - as a girl, an adolescent and a young woman. A giallo is a half thriller, half slasher film. This was more slasher than thriller, though the explicit violence came only in the final sequence. If you watch the film as reality, it doesn't work. But as the developing fantasy life of the main character viewed from inside her head, it works much better. The music is creepy and funny at the same time: Sergio Leone meets Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. The camera work and colors reminded me of a cross between David Lynch and Bunuel. On a visual and auditive level, the film works. That's the only way to see it.
Le père de mes enfants was filmed in and around Paris, except for a brief sequence in Italy. Paris was the character in the movie I most wanted to watch. Based on a true story, the film is both warm and sad. It mostly works, though at times it seemed about to veer off topic. The three daughters of the over-extended film producer are wonderful and relaxed. In the case of both Farsan and Le père de mes enfants, the lighting and actors are natural. Such a refreshing contrast with Hollywood big productions! The sixty-year-olds in Farsan look their age and it is wonderful to see. The actors in Le père de mes enfants are not overly-made-up or facelifted. Everyone just looks like a person. Vive le cinéma!